Eurobites: Ericsson, BT Make the Case for Automation & Network Slicing

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: EU proposes new rules on non-personal data; Vodafone studies cybersecurity; Huawei joins Euro 5G project.

  • Sweden's Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and the UK's BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) have tried to attach some hard figures to the business case for investing in automation technologies and 5G network slicing, which should allow many virtualized network services to be offered over the same infrastructure. According to a new report from the two companies, an operator launching 40 new Internet of Things (IoT) services annually over a five-year period would see a 35% increase in revenues and a 40% reduction in operating expenditure if it used network slicing and automation instead of relying on "one big network." While Ericsson was hardly about to tell prospective customers that network slicing is less profitable than "one big network," BT's involvement in the study makes it worthier of attention.

    Even so, besides discussing the attractions of network slicing and automation in general terms, the report does not really indicate how Ericsson and BT arrived at those numbers. Nor does it say whether these new IoT revenues will be especially significant. Some leading analysts have yet to be convinced, though. A Swedish consulting group called Northstream estimates that future IoT sales will account for no more than 1% of revenues generated by most operators. Ericsson's report is likely to prompt lots of questions from other service providers that use the Swedish vendor's products. (See 5G Guru Predicts Rollout Disparity.)

  • The European Commission is proposing a new set of rules governing the free flow of non-personal data in the EU, which it hopes will boost the competitiveness of businesses and help modernize public services within the European single market. Under the new proposals, EU member states can no longer oblige organizations to locate the storage or processing of data within their own borders, the relevant authorities will be able to access non-personal data wherever it is stored or processed within the EU, and new codes of conduct will be developed to make it easier to switch between storing data in the cloud and porting it back to users' closed IT systems.

  • And from another dusty corridor of the European Commission comes a commitment to step up the EU's game when it comes to cybersecurity. Two main things are being proposed: an EU Cybersecurity Agency to help member states deal with cyber attacks; and a new European certification scheme that will aim to ensure that digital products and services are safe to use.

  • Cybersecurity and its importance to healthy businesses is the subject of a new report from Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD). According to the report, 89% of businesses surveyed said that improving cybersecurity would enhance customer loyalty and trust, while 90% said it would enhance their reputation. On a less positive note, 41% of those asked were uncertain about where to turn for help on dealing with cybersecurity challenges.

  • The 5G-Monarch project, which is part-funded by the European Commission and is being run by a consortium comprising 14 partners from six European countries, has invited China-based Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd to join the party. Huawei's role will be to lead the design of architecture based on 5G network slicing.

  • WND UK, which describes itself the UK's "primary Sigfox Internet of Things network operator," is seeking to reassure potential British customers that, contrary to the impression they may have received from the "failure of previous network operators" attempting to sell them the low-power wide-area (LPWA) communications technology, Sigfox is indeed a "proven technology and the basis for a commercially viable IoT network." WND UK says it is committed to providing Sigfox coverage to 95% of the UK population by 2019. (See Is Sigfox on the Run?)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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